Dallas, TX–Blockbuster Inc. has announced that it is rolling out an expanded Blu-ray disc inventory for rental to 1,450 Blockbuster stores by mid-July. The company will continue to offer both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles through its online rental service, www.blockbuster.com, and will continue to offer both formats at its initial 250 stores that currently carry both high-definition formats.
“We intend to meet the demands of our customers and based on the trends we’re seeing, we’re expanding our Blu-ray inventory to ensure our stores reflect the right level of products,” said Matthew Smith, SVP Merchandising for Blockbuster. “While it is still too early to say which high-definition format will become the industry standard, we will continue to closely monitor customer rental patterns both at our stores and online, so we can adjust our inventory mix accordingly and ensure that Blockbuster is offering customers the most convenient access to the movies they want, in the format they want.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Blockbusters decision is due in large part to the availability of titles in Blu-ray, with the news outlet noting that all major studios except one are releasing films in Blu-ray, with several, including The Walt Disney Co., releasing exclusively in Blu-ray; only Universal Studios exclusively supports HD DVD.
With the expansion in July, the 1,700 stores will be carrying more than 170 titles in Blu-ray and will continue to add titles in the format as they are released from the studios. “We are excited to be able to make more high-definition titles available to our customers in those stores where our research indicates there will be the most demand,” said Smith. “Obviously, when customers are ready we can expand the Blu-ray offering into more stores and add HD DVD to more locations if that’s what customers tell us they want. We’ll continue to work with the movie studios to ensure we have the right assortment of products.”
The rental giants move toward Blu-ray comes on the heels of Sonys decision to slash prices of its Blu-ray player nearly in half, to $499.
The North American HD DVD Promotional Group, according to AP , said that Blockbuster’s decision was shortsighted and skewed by the success of films released by Blu-ray studios in the first three months of the year.